Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock 'N' Roll Allen Public Library Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
The road to Rock 'n' Roll was paved by the numerous African-American musicians and promoters of the 1930s and '40s who were forced to perform in venues that were safe for them during this time of intense segregation. This informal network of juke joints and clubs gave us artists such as Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker and Wynonie Harris.
Acclaimed journalist Preston Lauterbach discusses his exciting book The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock 'N' Roll at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21st. Because of Lauterbach's documentation of the fascinating stories of these talented yet often forgotten musicians, American musical history is more complete. In recognition of Lauterbach's accomplishment, he is also a featured author at this year's Texas Book Festival, Oct. 22-23 in Austin, Texas.
The initial inspiration for his book came from traveling the current Chitlin Circuit with artist Bobby Rush. Lauterbach quickly recognized the role these vibrant, profitable, and entertaining venues played in American musical history. His curiosity was piqued. Although his initial investigation was on how these businesses functioned, unearthing the historical background behind them quickly took precedence. As answers to his questions became elusive, he felt compelled to dig deeper.
As a trained investigative journalist, obtaining primary sources, such as interviewing witnesses and major players, were key objectives. Veteran musicians and businesspeople directed him to the kingpins of the Chitlin' Circuit, whose achievements were also documented by the Black press. Lauterbach struck gold when he located rare collections of contracts, ticket prices, and correspondence kept by Circuit impresarios. Lauterbach combines his skillful journalistic reports with entertaining biographical accounts to profile the personalities with vivid imagery and credible accuracy. He weaves their stories into a colorful portrait that celebrates the vast contributions of the Chitlin' Circuit. "The process opened my eyes to the way history can be manipulated, hidden, and paved over," Lauterbach recounts. "I hope to enlighten every crowd I address and every reader to this same phenomenon, though without guilt tripping everyone." Like many histories, some of the people that Lauterbach interviewed died before the book was published, and thanks to his research, their stories are properly recorded for future generations to study and enjoy. Sponsored by Bach to Books, this event is free. Call 214-509-4911 for more information.